Survey Says…

Mar 6, 2014 by

Written By: David Augustinho
Barnstable Patriot Column # 114 February 2014

One of the tools that workforce development professionals use when we are trying to understand what is going on in the labor force is a vacancy survey. A vacancy survey is created by asking employers if they have job openings and what kinds of jobs are currently available. We ask a few more questions, but basically we are trying to understand what openings exist, are they full time or temporary positions, and how long has the position been vacant.

The state conducted a vacancy survey in the 2nd quarter of 2013 and the results are now available. As you would expect there is good news and bad news in the report.

Compared to the previous vacancy survey, conducted in 2012, we have almost twice as many job openings, 10,034 to 5,111. This large increase is consistent across the state, almost twice as many openings as the previous survey showed. I am not sure what could cause such a large change. The state is currently looking at the results to see if there is an explanation that might relate to the methodology used.

In any case, 51% of the vacancies are for full time (35 hours per week or more) jobs, leaving 49% of the offerings as part time positions.  Only 35% of the vacancies are for permanent positions. This lack of permanent job offerings is especially apparent in certain industries.

For example, in the construction industry 81% of the vacant jobs were permanent positions, while in the accommodation and food industry only 17% of the positions were permanent. Even in the manufacturing sector only 40% of the vacancies were for permanent positions.

Even though there are many more job vacancies in 2013, it appears that many more of the vacancies are for full time jobs. Only 20% of the 2012 jobs were for full time employment while 51% of the 2013 jobs were full time positions.

Some of the other statistics offered in the survey help to round out the picture of available jobs on the Cape. For instance, only 18% of the positions being offered included health care; only 5% of the jobs offered sick leave as a benefit; only 7% of the positions offered vacation benefits; 10% offered retirement savings and 34% of the positions offered no benefits. 

Of course with so many of these positions offering less than permanent jobs it is somewhat understandable that employers are not providing a high level of benefits.

Educational requirements for the vacant jobs were pretty low. A majority, 51%, of the jobs listed no minimum education level while 19% required a high school diploma and only 3% asked for a bachelor’s degree.

Almost 20% of the jobs required licensure or certification. Another 38% of the listings asked for work related experience and 30% of the jobs required no experience.

As I pointed out at the beginning of this article, the survey was conducted in the second quarter of 2013. It is possible that the Cape survey was done in April, the start of our busy summer season. If that were the case it makes sense that a large number of temporary (seasonal) positions were available in the region. Based on previous studies we know that our seasonal employment needs call for anywhere from 15,000 to 20,000 workers to be added to the workforce. So the availability of 10,000 open jobs at that time would not provide any reason for alarm.

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